Comrade Snehal S, formerly a leader of the Austin branch, posts on Facebook:
An open note to the “ISO Renewal Faction”: please check your facts. There are no “12 people” who have “been lost”…we know where they all are and only two of them have left the organization. This is at best irresponsible on your part, our political disagreements aside.
This is in response to the following from our platform document on the organizational crisis:
In Austin, the oldest Texas branch with the most cadre, about a dozen members have been lost in the last few months.
Here I’d like to briefly reply to Snehal, because his reaction typifies how many comrades delude themselves about the existence of a crisis in the ISO.
There is, of course, no question of members being lost geographically; rather they were lost as members. Of the twelve we say have been lost in Austin, two have formally left the organization. What of the other ten? Do they remain active members, participating in the life of the organization?
No. They are “on leave,” have “taken a step back,” etc. That is the fact that Snehal elides.
Now comrades may take leave for entirely legitimate reasons involving health, family, employment, and so on. But if ten people go “on leave” more or less simultaneously–at the same time as two others formally resign–then it is foolish to pretend as if the reason is not fundamentally political and indicative of a political crisis.
I don’t mean to single out the Austin branch. We experienced precisely the same phenomenon in Boston: a number of members went “on leave” around the same time–never to return. I suspect that this is happening almost everywhere; such indefinite/permanent “leave” is particularly utilized by burned-out cadre, who find it impossible to continue as ISO members but do not wish to sever their longstanding connection with the organization.
A wise leadership would see this all for what it is, speak about it openly, and urgently discuss what must be done. This is what the Renewal Faction is attempting to do. Unfortunately the leadership faction has chosen to close its eyes to our loss of membership–even though we fool no one but ourselves. Any moderately sophisticated ally or opponent or enemy can determine our true strength by observing our public activity: tablings, movement interventions, union work, campus presence, etc. These are all indices of our active membership–which, if we’re students of Lenin, is the only kind of membership in a revolutionary organization (barring exceptional circumstances).
Shaun J (Boston)
Update: Snehal has published a reply to this piece here.
This is a Discussion article; it does not define faction policy and is not binding on members of the faction.